Integrating Renewables: Need to upgrade Uttar Pradesh’s transmission infrastructure

By Harikrishna K.V., Research Scientist, and Abhishek Nath, Sector Head, Energy and Power Sector, Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy

Uttar Pradesh, the fourth largest state in terms of land area, is the most populated state in India, accounting for over 16 per cent of its total population. It is the second largest consumer of electricity after Maharashtra, with a re­ported energy demand of 123,383 MUs and a peak demand of 23,747 MW in 2020-21. However, in 2021-22, the electricity consumed per person in the sta­te stood at around 642 kWh against India’s per capita consumption of 1,255 kWh. Thus, Uttar Pra­desh is far below the national average for electrical energy consumption.

As of January 2023, the installed power ge­ne­ration capacity in Uttar Pradesh was ab­out 31.4 GW, with thermal energy acco­unting for the majority (82 per cent of the total installed capacity), followed by solar energy (8 per cent) and biomass (7 per cent). Further, hydro and nuclear constituted 2 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively, of the installed power capacity.

There has been no significant increase in renewable energy capacity addition in the state. As of January 2023, only 2.48 GW of solar power capacity and 2.19 GW of biomass power capacity has been added. As per the National Institute of Wind Energy, Uttar Pradesh has a low wind potential (0.1 GW). In contrast, the state is blessed with a remarkable solar potential of 22.83 GW as per the National Institute of Solar Energy. To expedite renewable energy capacity addition, the state introduced the latest Solar Energy Policy in 2022, which aims to achieve 22 GW of solar power capacity by 2026-27. This renewable energy target is expected to further rise with India’s ambitious target of achieving 500 GW of non-fossil-fuel-based energy generation capacity by 2030 to generate 50 per cent of electricity from green energy sources.

The Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Co­m­­mission mandated a renewable purchase obligation (RPO) of 11 per cent en­ergy in 2020-21. However, the state was able to accomplish roughly 9 per cent in this time frame. The RPO goal set for 2023-24 is 15 per cent. This target will be rai­sed further in the coming years to meet the Ministry of Power’s national RPO objective of 43.3 per cent by 2029-30. Thus, the state needs to install a significant quantity of renewables to in­c­rease the renewable energy share in its energy mix.

The transmission network serves as the backbone for transferring power from generating stations to load centres. Hence, the availability of an adequate transmission in­fra­structure is crucial to encourage utilities and renewable energy providers to build more generating stations. The transmission infrastructure must be appropriately designed and installed in advance becau­se building the network takes longer than setting up solar and wind plants. As of De­c­em­ber 2022, Uttar Pra­desh has 154,031 MVA of substation capacity and 50,732 ckt. km of transmission lines. In addition, a balance source of a storage component is re­quired to account for changes in generati­on from renewable energy sources be­cau­se of the intermittent nature of the power output from such sources.

To upgrade the transmission infrastructure for renewable energy integration and evacuation, the government has introdu­c­ed the Green Energy Corridors (GEC) program­me across the nation. Uttar Pradesh is in­cluded in Phase II of the two GEC an­no­un­cements. With a proposal to integrate 20 GW of renewable energy across seven states under GEC Phase II, Uttar Pradesh was given a state share to build 2,597 ckt km of transmission lines and 15,280 MVA of transformation capacity for adding 4,000 MW of renewable energy. The Phase II projects are yet to witness the network en­ha­n­cement plans in action, as they are currently in the tendering stage. Further, to incorporate a greater sh­a­re of renewable energy, comprehensive st­ate-level transmission network studies will be undertaken to determine the best grid injection site depending on network av­ailability. The analyses will also be useful in recommending network st­r­engthening along with the infrastructure investment needed to acco­mmodate more renewable energy. This will help utilities bu­ild an efficient transmission infrastructu­re in advance for higher renewable energy integration.

In order to increase the share of renewable energy and per capita power consumption in Uttar Pradesh, a comprehensive transmission planning study should be conducted through detailed modelling of the state network using power simulation software like Power System Simulator for the Engine­ering and Electrical Transient Analy­zer Program. In addition, a load flow analysis sh­ould be performed to detect transmission network availability. To ensure the optimal despatch of power and quantify the storage needed in the system, a production cost analysis will also be required. n